10/7/2008Canada: Edmonton Photo Radar Trial Underway
Edmonton, Canada photo radar bribery scandal trial resumes with the whistleblower email that kicked off the initial investigation.
A senior Edmonton, Canada police officer was back in court yesterday as trial court proceedings began to determine whether his authorship of a fraudulent memo on behalf of a photo radar firm constituted a crime. Detective Thomas Bell, 50, is one of several Edmonton Police Service officers who accepted lavish gifts and other benefits between 1998 and 2004 from Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), a company that went on to receive a police recommendation for a no-bid contract worth $90 million to run the city's speed cameras.
Bell's partner, Staff Sergeant Kerry Nisbet, 52, and ACS were both charged with bribery in 2006, but each escaped prosecution because of the difficulty in proving a clear quid pro quo between the company trying to "improve relations" with the police force and a senior officers advocating on the company's behalf. Bell's downfall came when he put his name to a memorandum designed to single out ACS as the only firm capable of operating the lucrative speed camera program. As reported by the Edmonton Journal, an anonymous March 2004 whistleblower email from within the department kicked off the investigation into Bell and Nisbet's actions:Apparently, over the last year or so while Sgt. Bell has been (in charge) of that unit he was sent on several junkets all paid for by ACS. But it doesn't end there.One high-ranking officer, former Deputy Police Chief Darryl da Costa, narrowly escaped internal punishment for violating ethics rules in taking free hockey tickets and meals. The statute of limitations had expired by the time the allegations surfaced.
Bell also was the fortunate recipient of many lunches, dinners, golf tournaments and banquets, all paid for by ACS. It makes me sick to my stomach that some of our supposed role models are putting themselves in questionably ethical positions for personal gain, and in blatant conflicts of interest.
Many in positions that could have prevented this, knew about it, could have put a stop to it, yet turned a blind eye.
Court proceedings are expected to continue. If convicted of breach of trust, Bell would face a maximum sentence of fourteen years in prison.